Title: GREEN FIRE - an "Angel" story
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
e-mail: jfc@freeshell.org
Feedback: Please, to the above address!
Archive: By permission only
Rating: NC-17 for m/m interaction and disturbing imagery
Timeframe: After "Hero"
Keywords: SRA, A/D slash!
Spoilers: Anything goes, up to and just beyond "Hero"
Summary: Regrets? Angel's had a few...

DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt, and the good folks over at "Mutant Enemy" Productions, not to me. I am merely borrowing them for the entertainment of my online friends and myself. No copyright infringement is intended, and no monetary compensation is desired for my use of these characters.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The vampire physiology I use in this story has not really been used in the "Buffy/Angel" universe that I can recall. I'll be damned if I can remember its original source, though...

DEDICATION: For Viridian, of course...

COPYRIGHT: (C) April 18, 2000, Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.


Down here, deep in the basement, I can still feel the sun glaring directly overhead, far above this building. I should be asleep, but the warmth is keeping me awake. However, I realize that the sun doesn't radiate this deeply into the earth. Only the heat of a living creature could be making it this sweltering in here, or perhaps just the *memory* of that creature, because he certainly isn't living anymore...

Those eyes... Every time I try to close my eyes, those pale green ones hover just inside my mind, as if to send me some kind of message. What they want, I have no idea. Is it "Help me"? No, that doesn't sound right. Doyle sacrificed himself for the cause proudly, leaving him completely destroyed and utterly beyond help, mine or anyone else's. Plenty of beings from over there have contacted those of us on this side of the world, so I figure if there were any fragment of his consciousness left, someone would have heard him calling--probably Cordelia, with her new gift/curse. Then again, maybe that's all there is. That lonesome crumb, clinging to a perfectly ordinary girl from a perfectly ordinary home, is the only remaining vestige of my biggest mistake. Now if I could only decide if my sin was of commission or omission...

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the message that the eyes that won't leave me alone wanted to convey turned out to be "I love you," given that his voice gave me that very message once in this very room. There was no way I could accept that assertion then--no way I could welcome his love into my heart, and certainly no way I could return it--but I wonder if it would be different now...

Wait--I know what you're thinking. You're wrong. This has absolutely *nothing* to do with Buffy. That was another time, another place--practically another *me*. When you've lived as long as I have, you learn to compartmentalize the periods of your life as snapshots in a much larger album. Human beings in particular don't survive long enough to make up more than a fleeting memory to a vampire. The slayer is not as bygone an era as that of some of my other human companions, but someday she will be. To answer your other question, yes, I do love her more than any other, but that is past, finished, not meant to be. Moving on is one thing I've learned to do very well.

Maybe if I weren't so quick to make judgements about other people, to determine where someone stood in my life and move on from there--maybe Doyle would still be here now. The night he made his big confession to me, he was still a little goony from the reunion with his wife. This was before the new in-laws had threatened to eat his brain (and I'd always thought that that was just a figure of speech), so he wasn't in fear for his life yet. He had written this woman off a long time before, and suddenly she was back, wanting to dissolve their union. This revelation left him more raw than I realized at first.

Sure--for Cordelia's sake, he swore that he still loved his wife. Of course he did. A person doesn't necessarily stop loving the one he's taken into his home when that one stops loving him back. But later, when Cordy had left for the evening, and I was awake reading some psychology treatise until sunup, I noticed Doyle literally pacing the hall outside my room.

Finally the clunk of his bootheels on the wood became more than I could stand. Opening the door, I peeked out quietly. There he stood, facing away from me, looking for all the world like a man deep in conversation with someone. However, there was no one in the hall but him, and no sound at the moment but his deep inhalations of breath.

So as not to startle him, I practically whispered, "Do you often speak to walls?"

He spun immediately to face me. "Angel!" he exclaimed, as if he weren't hoping I'd been disturbed by his footsteps right outside my door. "I didn't know ye were home!"

"You're lying," I noted, making his face lose its cast of pretense. "You were hoping I was here. You might as well come in."

"Oh, I wouldn't want to discomfit ye..." The hiss of his "s" rolled around his brogue and picked up steam from the whiskey he'd been drinking. "However, I would very much like to ask ye somethin'."

"It's no trouble. C'mon in," I invited, wondering what was on his mind as he brushed past me into my room. I'd have suggested he make himself at home, but he looked intent on pacing even after he was inside my door. "Open or shut?"

From a million miles away, he finally turned to me and asked, "What?"

"The door," I replied, gesturing. "Open or shut?"

"Shut, please," he answered, his voice several tones lower than I would have expected it, its rumble echoing somewhere in my belly and taking me by surprise.

I sat in an easy chair, hoping it would prompt him to take the other one, but he seemed to prefer bouncing on his toes before my bookshelves. "Is something wrong?" I asked when he didn't speak for a few moments.

"Wrong? No! No, no, no, no--nothin's wrong at all!" he said far too jovially to be sincere. His smile showed his teeth and stretched his delicate cheekbones forward, but did nothing to indicate good humor on his face.

I knew that any response from me was unnecessary at that point, so waited for him to explain himself further, which he was more than ready to do.

"She doesn't want me any more. My wife, the one who gave herself unto me forever and ever, amen, says it's over. All right, so maybe I'm not Catholic, but I was brought up to consider marriage to be a once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing." He spun suddenly to face me. "Y'ever been married, Angel?"

Before I could do more than open my mouth to answer "no", he supplied his own answer.

"No! Of course ye haven't. You haven't lived the sorta life that ye'd want to share with someone 'til death do ye part, now, have ye? I mean, yer not plannin' on dyin', which more or less puts a damper on it, eh?" He finally plopped down into the chair opposite me, propping his elbows on his knees to lean towards me conspiratorially. "But ye know what's that's like, don'tcha? I mean, with that girl Buffy--you could see yerself marryin' her, couldn'tcha? I mean, if yer life were different?" I only nodded my assent as he leaned back in his chair again and went on, less to me than softly to himself. "I thought that we were set fer life! I mean, how could she come back here and tell me that it's over?"

Quietly, I was able to interject, "You *had* been separated. You hadn't seen her for two years. Didn't you think that maybe she was making other plans?"

He was on his feet in an instant. "She needed some time to herself, or so she said! I always assumed that she'd finish that up and come back!" Breathing heavily, he turned as if to study the titles of my books more closely. Neither of us moved for several heartbeats. Through vocal cords taut with anguish, he whimpered, "How could she come back just to say goodbye?"

It was hard to watch him, and I found myself closing my eyes to block out the image of my friend and colleague in such pain. Possibly to buy myself some time, I offered a plea of, "I'm sorry."

The *whump* of his backside hitting the floor startled me into opening my eyes. He had apparently turned and bent his legs to sit on my carpet, and lost his balance briefly, as he didn't seem to be drunk--well, at least not as drunk as I'd seen him on previous occasions. However he'd come to be there, though, he looked as if he'd intended to be plopped on the floor in front of me, and he stared up at me wordlessly with those strangely green coals he used for eyes.

"Are you all right?" I asked, since he had landed pretty heavily.

He blinked slowly, like an owl staring into the dark of night. "Physically, I'm fine, aside from the fact that my beloved Harry has torn out my heart and asked for my signature on the bill of transfer." A quiver twitched his lower lip miserably as he added, "Other than that, I'm perfectly peachy."

That face refused to let me go, even then. Try as I might, I could not look away from his probing eyes except to glance at his mouth, which just begged for another kind of attention. My heart felt pierced through by needles, enough to hurt but, unfortunately, much less than was necessary to kill. I refused to allow myself to want what my body seemed to demand, if only to preserve Doyle's last shred of dignity.

It was Doyle's turn to whisper. "God damn them all, anyway."

Knowing exactly what his answer would be, I challenged him: "Who?"

"Women," he spat, like the word left a bad taste in his mouth. "I've done with them all, from this day forward." For a moment, his gaze drifted as he apparently considered all the members of the fairer sex who had wronged him in his short, cruel life.

Before I could stop myself, I reached down a hand to clasp his shoulder comfortingly. The exchange of electrical energy I could sense up my arm straight into my spine was both sickeningly familiar and startlingly fresh. Doyle's pounding pulse tortured my hand and for a split second sent a siren call to my thirsty mouth. I shook my head to remove the unwelcome vision of drinking the whole of the lonely demon sitting desolately on the floor before me.

Coming slowly out of his reverie, he began, "I need..." Unfortunately, his gaze resolved on my mouth, which still hung slightly open with the last longings for his throat. "I need to erase them entirely from my soul," he vowed at last, lunging up from his seat and latching onto my lips with his own.

My fangs receded immediately as I tasted his whiskey-thickened tongue on mine, and I kissed him back, not as reluctantly as I should claim. The electric charge I had been feeling now continued down my spine and directly into my sex as if completing a circuit. His kiss was laced with the salt of tears he refused to shed and the tang of anticipation at fulfilling a desire long denied.

When he broke from my mouth and sat back on his heels, his eyes dove into mine, seeking shelter, or perhaps absolution. Suddenly he must have realized what he'd just done, because his eyebrows flew to his hairline and his jaw dropped in shock. Stammering, he apologized, "I--I'm sorry, Angel. I shouldn't have--I mean, you probably don't even take it from men..."

A stormcloud of lust moved across my brain, and I growled, "I take whatever I can get," before gripping the back of his neck and pulling his head once again within range to kiss. The groan that crawled from his chest as he fell against my tongue ended in a sob as he gave himself up to his physical need, and his bony hands clutched painfully at my shoulders.

My higher brain functions shut down one by one as I succumbed to kissing Doyle, except for the nagging question of how long I'd known that I wanted him. Eventually the throbbing in my lap supplanted even that uncertainty, and I moaned in a hunger with which I was not as well acquainted as the one that had earlier distracted me.

He shifted his knees on the floor to better balance himself, letting go of my arms to stroke his fingers across my shirt front and down to the button fly of my jeans. We only stopped kissing when he needed to look at his nimble hands releasing me from the confining fabric. Our differing requirements for oxygen became apparent as I noticed him gasping slightly for breath as he bent over my crotch. "Here," he panted as he gently lifted my hardness from my pants, "I think you'll be wantin' this..." Before I knew it, his lips were caressing the tip of my penis.

"NO! Don't!" I shouted, shoving him away by the shoulder, startling him from his ministrations.

"What?" he demanded to know. "What's wrong?" He had dropped his treasure, but his hands held him as steady as possible as he pushed against my thighs. "I thought you'd like that..."

I swallowed hard, composing myself a little while being careful not to let go of him. "Yes, Doyle. I would have liked that very much. You just can't..."

A frown of concern furrowed his porcelain forehead. "Why the bloody hell not?"

Shrugging off the irony of his comment for the moment, I struggled to find the words to explain. "I'm a vampire. I'm not like you."

He started to look angry as he asked, "What's bein' a vampire got to do with me going down on ye?"

I shifted in my chair, trying to ignore my erection without losing it. "I don't have bodily fluids like you do. It's all just blood. I cry blood tears, I piss blood..."

"You *come* blood," he interrupted, understanding my explanation before I could finish it. "Ye don't want me to suck yer cock, because then I'll taste yer blood, and I'll become..."

"A vampire," I completed his sentence. "I'm sorry. I'm sure it would have felt wonderful, but I haven't let anyone give me head for over a hundred years. Of course, back then..."

"Back when ye were the evil Angelus..." he supplied, obligingly.

"Right. I turned more than a few prostitutes in my day, only a few of them unintentionally."

Doyle wrinkled up his nose, disgusted more by this thought than by the physiological facts that had led up to it. Before my eyes, several thoughts coalesced in his head. "Wait... Ye said *all* of your bodily fluids are blood? I kissed you..." His eyes began to take on the icy tinge of horror.

Raising my other hand in what I hoped was a calming gesture, I assured him, "It's okay--I've still got a kind of saliva. You're safe. I mean, Buffy's not a vampire, is she?"

He hesitated, recalling the time he met the Slayer. "I guess not," he asserted, though he still seemed apprehensive.

Leaning down to his eye level from my chair, I spoke as gently as I could. "Look, Doyle. You're my friend, possibly my *best* friend. I would never do anything to hurt you, especially not *now*, okay?" He did not really nod, but *blinked* his understanding to me. I regrouped with an encouraging smile, asking, "Now, unless I'm very much mistaken, you wanted to make love with me tonight, didn't you?" In response to his shy nod, I added, "Do you still want to?"

"Aye, Angel. I do. Please..." The rest of his sentence was obliterated by my redoubled kiss. His hand slid back up to grasp my fading erection, pumping tenderly to restore it to life.

Between kisses, I murmured, "Maybe we'd be more comfortable in my bed..."

"Right," he chuckled, pressing his lips to mine warmly, then rising to his feet. He let his jacket slide down his arms and tossed it into the other armchair while I removed my boots. Shedding his own boots quickly, followed by his shirt and jeans, he held out one hand in a stopping gesture when he saw me start to unbutton my shirt. "Wait a bit. Let me do that."

I stepped over to the bed and stood patiently while he loosened each button from its place and paused to kiss the skin beneath, bending lower with each kiss. Crouching in front of me, he held my ass and thrust his tongue into my navel roughly before unbuckling my belt and pushing my pants down around my ankles. Faced once again with my hard cock, he admired it for a moment, then looked up at me, that sad Irish smile making my balls tighten noticeably. At last he closed his eyes and dipped his head, but this time he nuzzled against the small head before him, slowly stroking his softly stubbled cheek against my length, provoking a gasp from me at the sensual tickle along my foreskin. Placing a dry kiss on the closest side of my uncut member, he sat back on his heels and addressed it, saying, "Poor thing. How I'd love to take ye inside my mouth and show ye the good time ye haven't seen for a hundred years..."

After letting my shirt fall from my hands, I held out one to help up my business partner, my friend, my... *what*, exactly? At the moment, "friend" seemed inadequate, but somehow acceptable. He boosted himself to his feet, then fixed his eyes on mine before tumbling us both onto the coverlet of my sturdy bed. Once again finding my mouth with his own, he breathed the faint scents of whiskey, despair, and *life* directly down my open throat.

For awhile we were silent but for the wet sounds of tongues exploring and teasing each other. Soon, however, a small desperate moan wafted up from my chest, and, taking that as invitation, Doyle began plying his taut cock against my stomach. The sensations of our bodies pressing on opposite sides of my penis seemingly acted as concrete rubbing against a match, combining heat and friction to set me aflame. It was as if my skin wasn't solid anymore, but subsumed straight to pure light, leaving melted flesh still staining my bones. Our kiss ended to allow him to catch his breath, but his hips rolled and snapped, stroking himself steadily on what remained of my surface. I was too far gone even to consider penetrating him, nor him me, but I could have sworn we liquefied and merged at some point, his fingers flowing easily among the shredded muscles of my shoulders and my pelvis becoming one with his. Pure fire erupted from me when I could not hold back any longer, matched by the burning napalm of his come on my belly.

He was shaking all over when I solidified back into myself, murmuring unintelligible sounds into my ear. My arms still held him firmly against my cooling body, small squishing noises somewhere between us the only evidence of our prior states. "Doyle," I whispered comfortingly, "are you all right?"

A trembling nod was his only reply, but I found I could just make out the words he was uttering over and over again: "Love you. I love you. I love you..." As he wiped his face along my cheek, I thought I could feel hot tears spread out to dry on my skin. I knew that anything I said to answer either of these emotional responses could easily be misinterpreted or even hurtful, as I had not considered what it should be until that very moment. Instead, I tried to let him think that I had not noticed his loss of control and his inebriated confessions of devotion rather than indicate that they had either embarrassed me or stirred similar vibrations in my own heart. The choice to ignore his broken mutterings brought with it a conscious decision not to acknowledge any stray feelings that may have seeped into my soul with our messy activities, and I half-smiled humourlessly to myself to note my resolve hardening as my erection softened.

"C'mon, it's okay. You're going to be fine," I clucked to the quieting man in my arms. "We'd better go clean up now. It'll be a bitch later."

At last he roused himself and lifted his head from my shoulder cautiously. A sniffle and a hard swallow, and he was mostly himself again, though perhaps a shade or two paler than usual. We peeled ourselves apart, and Doyle raised his fist to his mouth, possibly suppressing his gag reflex, when he saw the smears of blood and ejaculate streaking our bodies. A little hoarsely, he attempted and failed to make his voice sound light and unconcerned when he announced, "Dibs on the shower."

Silently, I gestured him toward the bathroom, watching as he scampered off to hop in the stall and shut himself behind the vinyl curtain. However, he had left the outer door open, so I stepped into the room surreptitiously to run a soapy washcloth quickly over my body at the sink, dry off, then leave his clothes on the counter for him and shut the door as I left. Dressing quickly, I arranged myself casually in an armchair again, pretending to resume my reading but keeping all my other senses tuned toward my open door.

Having left Doyle's jacket where he had dropped it, I was not surprised to see him appear once again before me when he was done with his ablutions. His damp hair stuck out in all directions, and his guilty eyes could not meet mine. "I'm sorry," he began, his voice no louder than a whisper. "I shouldn't have come here tonight."

Standing to face him, I ducked a little to try to catch his eye. "Yes, you should have. You needed a friend to turn to. I'm glad you chose me." I evaded the point that I might have needed him a little, too. Opening my arms to him, I goaded him, "C'mon and give me a goodnight hug before you go. It's the least you can do." Both of us faking our disregard for what more he could do beyond that, he fell into my brotherly embrace, but turned to place a small kiss on my lips before he broke away to grab his jacket. "Thank you," I offered, hoping that this would make it easier for him to forgive himself.

"You're welcome," he sighed, stretching into his coat. "I hope ye don't think I--"

Shushing him with an upraised hand, I gave him a genuine smile and one last warm kiss. "Go home. Get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow." I guided him obviously to the door.

Before stepping back out into the hall, he paused. His green eyes imprinted upon my retinas forever as he smiled and answered, "Thank you, Angel. Good night," leaving me alone and leaving so many things unsaid. I shut my door and went to bed soon afterwards.

And now here I lie in my bed again, alone and haunted by his visage in my mind, still tasting his kiss on my tongue. The heat of his touch keeps me from my rest and chases the ever-present questions through my head. What if I *had* told him I loved him that night? Would he still have immolated himself to save the persecuted demons? Would he still be alive to hold me and make love to me tonight? Or would we have made the ultimate sacrifice together, leaping into oblivion hand in hand, side by side until the very end? And, for that matter, which eventuality would that describe: certain death courtesy of the generator, or a hundred lifetimes of love and ordinary life? I couldn't say it then, but I know it now: I love you, Doyle. Can you ever forgive me?



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